Words are Hard

Embarrassing Moments No Comments

Hello there friends!

It’s been so long since I wrote anything. It’s not that there’s a lack of thing I could say; I have no shortage of opinions and feelings…I just decided some of it was entirely too exhausting to write about.

So, why not tell you a funny story instead?!

Over the weekend, my friends Jason and Nicole were trying to get their toddler to demonstrate that she could say the word “elbow.” She eventually complied, and it was adorable!

If you know me, it won’t be shocking to hear that the word “elbow” sent my brain off on a journey, back in time 20 years, to a funny memory about the word “elbow.”

Let me preface this silly story by adding that sometimes my brain cannot understand English, which is my first and only language.

Growing up, I was blessed to know a great deal of extended family on my mom’s side. When we would gather for family events we would often play Scrabble. I would sit around the table with my great aunt Lois (a reading teacher), and several cousins (once or twice removed and all that jazz), and aunts–all very intelligent people, who were patient enough to allow children to play along with them. As we got older and our vocabulary grew, so did our Scrabble skills.

During one of these Scrabble games, I was definitely in high school, and was playing with my Aunt Sue. She played these letters “E-L-B-O-W.” I chuckled at her and waited for her to remove the tiles. She didn’t and began tallying up her points.

I questioned her, but she kept going. I just about lost it when she wrote down the points and added them to her score (these are not casual games). She said that I could tally the points if I wanted, but felt she was correct.

I said, “You can’t get points for that word!”

She asked why not…

And I responded “Ee-lah-boo (pronounced phonetically) is not even a word!!”

She gazed at me blankly, as did my younger cousin, who was in middle school at the time.

I did the big eye head waggle to emphasize my frustration, and she calmly said “The word is ELBOW.”

My bad.

I’m glad Nicole and Jason have taught their daughter this word so she will never know the twinge of embrassment during Scrabble.

I remember a couple other times I couldn’t comprehend English.

I infuriated my high school health teacher, Coach Wolverton, as he taught us about the practice of “Carbolodayne.” I asked “What?!” three times in a row, and still never understood what he was really saying, until years later.

Carb Loading. That’s totally a thing.

I can still recall him rolling his eyes at me in front of the class. Coincidentally, we are peers now and work in the same district…or is that irony?

The last language fail I can remember was in college. I was at a classmate’s house with a couple others working on a group project about the founding fathers of research psychology. Ebbinghaus is the only name I can even remember from that class…

Anyway, we were deciding what our visual should be for the presentation. This was before the days of Google Slides or PowerPoint, so we had to actually make a poster.

My friend, Jana, took out a piece of blank paper, turned it to “landscape,” and began to draw rectangles for the spots where we should glue pictures of the men. She drew squiggles underneath the rectangles to indicate we would have a blurb beneath each image. Lastly, at the top of the page, in an arc and in all capital letters she wrote “T-I-T-L-E.”

I waited a second and asked “Tit-lee? What’s that mean?”

My classmates gave me the same blank stare I’ve become accustomed to in these moments. After a second or two it dawned on me what the word actually was, and we all laughed until we cried.

To this day, any time I see the word “title” I pronounce it in my head as “tit-lee” and get a little chuckle from it.

Well, I hope you got a chuckle or two, as well.

Until next time…


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